You’re a Badass, Dolly Parton

Female is not synonymous with helpless. If you listen to the noise, you might think so. But the truth is, women have been using stilettos to kick out the glass ceiling since Cleopatra reigned supreme.

Kicking down glass in torturous shoes to change the world, prove our value, and realize our dreams isn’t easy. Easy would be to throw up our hands and scream about how unfair we have it and demand that everyone just give us stuff cuz we have boobies and can’t get paid. Easy would be to not even try. But that’s not the example I want for my daughter. And that’s not the opinion I want my son to have of women.

Yes, we have to work harder.  Yes, we have to have a curfew and can’t join anyone on business dinners because we can’t be out past dusk because we might be sexual prey.  Yes, we have to overcome adversity that only we can understand. And, yes, that can be frustrating and overwhelming to the point of questioning whether or not it’s worth even trying to get ahead. But luckily, we have examples; strong, inspirational women who have paved a way for us so that we can pave further for those who come after us. I don’t want the blood, sweat, and tears of those women to be for naught. If they can make the world a better place, we all can improve it a little more. I want to follow their example. So I figured what better way to start than to study the directions left by those great, inspirational females. And here, with this post, the journey of exploration and learning begins.

I’ve spent weeks pouring over Wikipedia and other parts of the internets to learn more about a woman that has been one of my idols since I first heard the song Jolene and saw The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at an age when I didn’t even know whorehouses had competitions. Yes, I’m highlighting the badassery of the one- the only- Mrs. Dolly Rebecca Parton. So, without further ado: I present to you a mostly thorough list of all the ways that Dolly Parton is a badass.

Dolly’s done it the “right” way

All of us Dolly- hards (that’s the name I’ve decided to give us Dolly fans) already know the origin story: she was born in a one-room cabin, deep in the Tennessee country. By all accounts no one outside of Pittman Center, TN should know her name. That in and of itself places her high on my list of awesomeness.

But she didn’t have a “win at all costs” mentality, clawing her way to the top while stepping over anyone she could to get what she wanted.  Dolly knew her end game. She was hyper-focused on becoming a country singer since the age of 6 and she did just that in a way that elevated the lives of those around her and she’s never lost sight of who she is and where she came from.

Dolly’s taken advantage of the opportunities that came her way

When Porter Wagoner invited Dolly to be his sidekick on The Porter Wagoner Show, she knew that this wasn’t the end game for her career.  She was still focused on becoming a solo artist.  But that didn’t keep her from seeing the advantage of taking the job.  While it would curve her path to solo success, what it DID afford her was a weekly audience.  She gave herself a timeline.  Dolly promised herself that she would give it five years.  She ended up giving that show seven years of her career.  It made her a household name and Dolly left the Porter Wagoner Show with connections in both music and TV.  While it wasn’t exactly what she wanted, she saw the end game.  

In addition to being on The Porter Wagoner Show, Dolly proved her business savvy when she partnered with her uncle Bill Owens to form Owe-Par Publishing.  Dolly knew that she needed to protect her songs if she was going to have any type of say in her work.   

Dolly Parton remembered where she came from

When Dolly’s solo career took off in the 70’s and 80’s, she knew that she wanted to give back to the community that helped raised her.  To do so, she used her new resources and the business savvy she inherited from her dad to buy a share of an old amusement park and start Dollywood, bringing thousands of jobs to the people of her Tennessee hometown and the surrounding areas.  Not only that, she’s also started a book gifting program called Imagination Library that mails free books to children.

So, what are you trying to tell me?

Hard work pays off.  Not sure if you realized this or not, but Dolly Parton has written over THREE THOUSAND songs!  I can’t even write 25 Thank You notes after my daughter’s birthday party!  This is the work ethic and drive that sets success apart from mediocrity. 

Dolly rose to the top because of the positive support of her family, her intuition, her drive, her work ethic, and a little luck.  She’s a role model because of her kind spirit and selflessness.  If Dolly’s taught us “Dolly-Hards” anything, it’s that success is possible and you don’t have to walk over everyone to get it.  So stop making excuses and go get the life you want!!!


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Taken Chances

A while ago my family and I were in Starbucks.  Nothing unusual there.  We would live there if we could.  My son, also as per usual, had his little guitar with him.  After all, he thinks he is Slash.  Upon seeing my Roman walking around with his guitar, a man turned around, pulled out his wallet, and gave Roman his guitar pick that he carries around.

Seems innocuous, right?  Just a man giving a little boy a guitar pick.  But to Roman it made his day.  To my husband and me it told us that someone cared.

This man saw a moment where he could add value and he stepped in.

We all live and go about our day and feel blessed when we make it home at the end.  But I’m finding that simply “living” isn’t enough.

{Ugh, I’m so demanding!}

Finding moments where we can add value and taking the step to insert ourselves into those moments takes courage.  Some of us have it naturally.  Some don’t.  I don’t but I want to.

Sometimes I see people who walk into a room and command it.  Sometimes I meet a person and it’s obvious they know a “secret” to life that I don’t know.  They are intriguing, enchanting even.  Poised but funny.  Intelligent but not obnoxious.

Recently I decided to become one of them.  After all, we live in ‘Merica.  The land of opportunity.  I’m going to create my own opportunities and lasso them.  Make ‘em ma biatch.

But how?

I was miserable at work.  I felt stagnated.  I came to work every day to a bankrupt company with a subversive boss who valued no one but herself.  I have talents.  I have ambition and drive.  But each day I was losing a little bit of it.

I could stay and complain every day.  And every day watch potential opportunities for growth and development fly from my grasp.  Every day I felt like I had so many ideas to help foster positive change but when I voiced them it was as if I were shouting into empty space.

My daughter is seven.  She is old enough to understand that I went to college.  She is old enough to understand that I believe I am just as capable as anyone else to add value to whatever I chose to participate in.  She is old enough to see my frustration every day.

She is also old enough to watch me change my situation.

I started interviewing.

I had a few bites but I was selective.  I finally was offered a position at a large company here in Atlanta.  The monetary offer was life altering for me and my family.  The title and responsibility were not.  Nor was the commute.  In Atlanta, the commute is EVERYTHING.  And, in speaking with friends who worked at the company offering me the new job, the grass wasn’t greener regarding employee morale.  Or processes.

Growing up I was counseled at school and around me to accept what job offer comes and be grateful.   Negotiating is bad form and turning down more money is foolish.  Also, don’t ask for more than you deserve.  Essentially, “you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!”

Well, frankly, that’s bullshit.  Who decides what I ‘deserve’?

I thought about the offer.  A lot.  I broke out into hives from the stress of making the wrong decision for my family and for my career.  Hives for 3 weeks.  No Bueno.

The horrible boss I had at my current employer had resigned.  I was a 10 minute drive from my front door to my office.  I was starting to establish credibility among the leadership team.  (Well, what was left of the team.)

What I was missing at my current employer was pay according to the market (I do this for a living so I know what the market value of my job is and it isn’t what I was making but I took the job to get out of a worse situation and that’s beside the point so I’ll leave this tangent now) and the ability to create a better environment for the company.  Aside from that, it was finally good.

So, I had an offer in hand and was about to resign.

Was this an opportunity to take a chance on the strategic direction of my career?

You betcha.

Was this an opportunity to take a risk?

You betcha.

Could this horribly backfire and blow up in ma face?


Here’s what I did:

I decided that if my current company countered I would consider the counter.  I actually wanted a counter.  I wanted to stay.  I wanted to know that I mattered.  I wanted to know that my co-workers valued me enough to fight for me.

If they didn’t, I would know that I was making the right move by leaving.

The counter offer was less money than the outside offer.  But I took it.

The following week a new leader started.  A smart, credentialed leader with a track record for making things happen.  So… I took another chance.

She (my new boss) scheduled a meeting with me last week to discuss my role in the company and the function that I manage.  I came to the meeting with a PowerPoint of all of my issues.  All of the things that led me to seek a job change.  All of the things that, if I were in charge, I would do differently.

And (and listen up, this is important) I brought solutions.

I felt out the company in the room.  If I thought she would be receptive I would give it to her.  If not, I still had my priority list that I was already determined to check off without permission if it came to that.

At the end of our meeting she said, “I’d love to know what you’d like to change”.

I could have said, “Ok, I’ll get that to you”.  I could have said, “Oh, no, everything is great.”

Nope.  I shoved that mild, weak, self-conscious girl back under the table and I whipped out my 17 slide presentation that I printed out.

She loved it so much that she made the other two HR leaders do the same thing.

Here is what I’m learning:

As a woman I have had to train myself to feel competent enough to speak up.

As a natural observer, I have had to learn how and when to give my input.

As a woman I have had to learn the hard way that boobs take way more courage to carry than balls.

And as long as I bring ethics and research and solutions to the table I’ll be ok.

As a human being, I’d rather be fired for creating positive change than getting a paycheck by keeping my mouth shut and not sticking up for what is right.

At just one week in, I can say I’m glad I stayed.  In six months I may have a different take.  But now I can at least give my resume more stability by lengthening my tenure at the company.  And maybe I can learn a thing or two from a strong woman in leadership who sits at the big boy table.

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